Sasikala convicted in DA case;Verdict Ends Run For Chief Minister
NEW DELHI : VK Sasikala has been found guilty of corruption by the Supreme Court and will have to surrender to the police in Chennai so that she can be jailed for four years. The Supreme Court ordered Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran to surrender forthwith before the trial court concerned.
This ends her high-decibel and divisive bid to be Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu – she is now barred from contesting an election for the next ten years. The two judges of the Supreme Court Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy also set aside the acquittal of her two co-accused J. Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran and restored their conviction in the case.
The SC said the appeals filed by Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, against the former Chief Minister has abated after her death on December 5, 2016.delivered their ruling separately, but agreed that Ms Sasikala had, in the early 90s, accumulated an illicit fortune.
The judgment has come seven months since the Supreme Court reserved the appeal for judgment on June 7, 2016 after 20 days of hearing arguments. The hearing had started on February 23 last year.
The case was originally pivoted on J Jayalalithaa, the four-term Chief Minister who Ms Sasikala lived with, but because she died in December, the judgement does not detail her role. However, the finding rips a huge hole through the legacy of Ms Jayalalithaa, beloved “Amma” to lakhs of supporters who accorded her deity-like status and treated her with religious fervor.
The case was premised on the fact that during her first term, Ms Jayalalithaa misused her office to accrue 60 cores of assets in a shared fortune with Ms Sasikala and her male relatives, who were later disowned by Amma.
In 2014, both women were jailed in Bengaluru, where the case was first tried. After being acquitted by the highest court in Karnataka, Ms Jayalalithaa returned to office. The appeal against the acquittal was filed in the Supreme Court by the Karnataka government, which has prosecuted the case.
As the verdict was delivered, Ms Sasikaka was at a resort on the outskirts of Chennai, where about 120 legislators from her party, the ruling AIADMK, have been stationed for a week to prevent them from switching allegiance to her rival, O Panneerselvam, who took over as Chief Minister after the death of Ms Jayalalithaa, who was his mentor.
OPS, as he is known, had refused party orders to facilitate the promotion of Ms Sasikala to the state’s top job. Instead, like her, he petitioned Governor C Vidyasagar Rao for the right to take a trust vote in the legislature to prove he is the rightful head of government.
Ms Sasikala’s faction, which has about 125 of the party’s 134 MLAs, will now have to elect a new leader who will approach the Governor with a new request for the opportunity to prove his or her majority.
Sasikala and her rival O Panneerselvam have been battling over AIADMK’s future after Jayalalithaa
Mr Panneerselvam now has nine state lawmakers and 12 parliamentarians backing him. They assert that because he was chosen three times by Amma to stand-in for her as Chief Minister when she was forced to take a breather on corruption charges, he was her intended replacement.
Ms Sasikala has never contested any election – not even one within her party – and her clamour for Chief Minister had driven public outrage against her proposed promotion, with social media campaigns and celebrities deriding her for trying to use sheer force – a reference again to the sequestering of MLAs – to fulfil her political ambition.
The defence counsel had argued that Karnataka had no authority to “interfere in the internal affairs of Tamil Nadu” and a violation of the federal scheme enshrined in the Constitution.
They had invoked Article 162 of the Constitution, which prescribed that the executive power of the State Executive is co-extensive with that of the State Legislature. The defence had argued that only Tamil Nadu had the “exclusive jurisdiction” to file the special leave petition or appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment of acquittal on May 11, 2015 as Ms. Jayalalithaa was a “public servant of the State of Tamil Nadu.”